Among Democrats and those leaning to the Democratic Party, 53% have a great deal of confidence in medical scientists to act in the public interest, up from 37% in January 2019. But among Republicans and those who lean Republican, 31% express a great deal of confidence in medical scientists, roughly the same as in 2019 (32%). As a result, there is now a 22 percentage point difference between partisan groups when it comes to trust in medical scientists.
While a majority of U.S. adults (59%) believe social distancing measures are helping a lot to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Democrats are more likely to say this than Republicans (69% vs. 49%). And, when asked about possible reasons for the ongoing presence of new infections in the U.S., partisans diverge, particularly when it comes to the role of testing. Three-quarters of Democrats (75%) consider too little testing a major factor behind new disease cases in the U.S. compared with 37% of Republicans.
Most people believe that evidence from public health experts is influencing government policies related to the coronavirus at least a fair amount, but more think such evidence has a great deal of influence on their state’s policies (43%) than on federal policy (26%).
As with views on government handling of the coronavirus, partisans see the intersection of public health and policy through a different lens. For example, about twice as many Republicans (38%) as Democrats (17%) think federal policies to control the spread of the coronavirus are influenced a great deal by evidence from public health experts.